updated 08:35 am EDT, Mon August 8, 2011
iTunes Replay may be months off
Talk of iTunes Replay bringing cloud movie streaming might have come too soon. Insiders claimed Monday that Apple didn't have deals with at least four of six major movie studios. Any deal would be months off at best, CNET was told.
Apple just recently landed deals to stream purchased TV shows and to download them again on devices with permanent storage. Limitations on movies are stricter, however, as half of the studios give HBO short-term exclusive access for DVDs and artificially block downloads and streaming during that timeframe. HBO isn't averse to streaming but is trying to strike a balance between existing deals with Fox, Universal, and Warner and what it would hope to gain.
Executives are most worried about agreeing to let a company offer pay-per-show video during HBO's exclusivity period, only to watch the same company switch to subscription videos at the same time and promptly undercut HBO's pricing. Time Warner chief and thus HBO director Jeff Bewkes is believed committed to making a deal and may have at least one deal very close, although such expectations have been made before. Disney, Sony, and Viacom may also be friendly to the concept.
Hesitation is somewhat unusual given that other services already have streaming rights. Amazon Instant Video and Vudu already offer direct streaming for movie rentals and purchases, at least sometimes including the new releases available on DVD at the same time. Studios may be holding out for better terms as well as to avoid handing too much control to Apple.
Netflix is still the dominant source of paid movies but has agreed to delays on movie and TV content to get its cheap subscriptions and streaming rights. Apple, however, is ahead in per-title rentals.